Updated: Jan 31
Sign up for "Countering Antisemitism in Etna" here.
It is time for Etna residents, businesses, and friends of the community to stand together and resoundingly say, "This is a community of love. Hate has no home here." Antisemitism is not a Jewish issue; it is an issue for all of us, all Americans, every person in Etna. On Monday, January 10th, please do not miss the opportunity to show your support for your neighbors who are feeling threatened by symbols and expressions in our community. "Countering Antisemitism in Etna" is a virtual community meeting that will feature local voices from Etna, elected officials from the state, students from Shaler Area High School, and experts from the Jewish Community.
"Countering Antisemitism in Etna" speakers will be:
Robert Tuñón, ECO Board Chair, will share on the purpose of the meeting and how it relates to Etna's vision to be an inclusive community that celebrates diversity
Mary Ellen Ramage, Etna Borough Manager, will provide her perspective from the Borough and their efforts to advance social equity
Pastor JJ Lynn and Etna clergy members will deliver an interfaith message of love and support
Shaler Area High School students will present on their work in a segment titled, "Student Voice and Action"
Megan Tuñón, Executive Director of ECO, will share on the ways residents and friends can get involved
Throughout the meeting, there will be ways for attendees to share ideas and input. The various speaking portions will have breaks that include interactive activities. The last 30 minutes of the evening are reserved for break-out room conversations with other attendees. Attendees will leave with a deeper understanding of the issues, awareness of what they can do as an individual, and action items for us to take as a community.
As individuals have already been signing up, they've voiced why it is important for them to be at the meeting. Here are just some of the reasons they've shared with us:
"We are a community and not just in name. We all rely on one another for safety, comfort, and understanding."
"My wife and I are Jewish. The presence of hate symbols displayed so freely, so nearby our home is obviously concerning. I want to make sure I'm aware of any potential threats to our own safety, but I also want to do anything I can to help make our communities safe for everyone."
"I want to help create a safe environment for my friends and neighbors, and figure out how to fight antisemitism, racism, and white supremacy in our town."
"I welcome the opportunity to address any form of discrimination in our community. I think it's important we talk about antisemitism given the presence of the recent flying of the swastika flag. Etna should be a safe community for people of any identity, especially those that have been discriminated against."
"I want to raise my children in a safe and loving community."
"I’m new here but I want to be a part of making us live up to our potential and leaving Etna better than we found it."
"I am a concerned member of the Jewish community."
Since the display of a swastika flag in Etna, the community has rallied in a number of ways to show that it is a resilient town. The first initiative came from Councilperson Jessica Semler, and was supported by other Councilmembers, Alice Gabriel and Megan Tuñón. The three launched a GoFundMe fundraiser to produce yard signs with the 'Etna is for Everyone' design. Signs can be obtained by completing this form. On New Years Eve, Councilmembers Gabriel and Tuñón walked with their children and neighbors through town and distributed signs. To date, 110 signs are displayed throughout Etna with another 130 awaiting homes.
The second initiative is through ECO's partnership with Etna Borough. We share this Equity Vision Statement from the Etna EcoDistrict process: Etna is an inclusive community that embraces diversity and activates everyone to shape our future together. We are running multiple 'Etna is for Everyone' displays over Rt. 28, which is seen by tens of thousands of travelers daily.
In the face of the rising threats of antisemitism, racism, transphobia, and all forms of hate, we must take action. Apathy - standing by, not showing up, staying silent - will be interpreted as acceptance by those who choose hate over love, exclusion over inclusion. Community members and friends of Etna must band together to show that those who believe in the ideal "Etna is for Everyone" are in greater numbers, have louder voices, and are more willing to act. We really need you to be with us on Monday, January 10th for this to ring true.
We leave you today with a phrase our neighbors from Highland Park Community Council Pittsburgh posted in response to an antisemitic act in their neighborhood: "We are all in this together, friends. The measure of a neighborhood is not whether awful things like this happen because they can happen everywhere - what matters is the way the neighbors step up and respond when they do."